Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tencel Jumbo starts at Lenzing (2014)

The Lenzing Group has successfully initiated production at its new TENCEL® jumbo production facility, the largest in the world, at the Lenzing site in Upper Austria. The plant is in the midst of a stable ramp-up phase. The feedback on the part of the market is very positive.
“We are more than satisfied with the progression of the start-up curve. Based on the production process in the past days and weeks, we have reasonable grounds to believe that this latest generation of TENCEL® technology will completely fulfill our expectations”, says a confident Lenzing Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Untersperger. “The successful start-up of production operations is a technological milestone for TENCEL®, the fiber of the future, and for the entire Lenzing Group. We are optimistic that we will be able to achieve the planned production target of 30,000 tons by the end of 2014. This new TENCEL® facility is decisive to ensure the long-term viability of fiber production at the Lenzing site and the basis for future investments in all markets”, adds Lenzing’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Friedrich Weninger.
This factory comprises the first time in which a single production line with an annual nominal capacity of 67,000 tons was installed. Previous TENCEL® production lines were usually only one-quarter as large. The new plant design incorporates lessons learned from the longstanding experience of three existing Lenzing Group TENCEL® production plants located in Austria, USA and Great Britain. As a consequence, the new TENCEL® plant in Lenzing represents the world’s leading generation of TENCEL® technology. The new design of the jumbo production line also enables investment costs to be maintained at a very competitive level of approximately EUR 150 mn (about EUR 2,200 per ton of capacity). This comprises the decisive approach to the further competitive scaling of TENCEL® fibers as a universally deployable textile and nonwoven fiber. The new, broader product portfolio on the basis of the TENCEL® technology successfully complements Lenzing’s specialty strategy.
With a construction time of 24 months, Lenzing completely adhered to both the budgeted investment costs as well as all timetables. The TENCEL® production in Lenzing secures 140 jobs at the Lenzing site.
Thanks to the new plant, annual nominal TENCEL® production capacity of the Lenzing Group will rise from 155,000 tons p.a. to about 220,000 tons. In this way Lenzing will further expand upon its global market leadership for TENCEL® fibers and offer its global customers new expansion opportunities in both the textile and nonwovens segments as well as new and innovative applications. “The related market development activities have already been in full swing for quite a few months”, states Robert van de Kerkhof, the Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of Lenzing responsible for the fiber business. Moreover, new technical applications will be opened up and massively expanded in the years to come.
Source:  Lenzing Press Release

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tencel in Lenzing Annual Reports 2010 - Part 2

The unusually large mention of Tencel in the 2010 report continues with coverage of expansion plans, integration of Fibre with Pulp production, growth in nonwoven wipes, Tencel powders, Tencel with Chitosan, Tencel derivatives for Gel Dressings and spunlaid Tencel nonwovens.

In December 2010, further, far-reaching fundamental decisions were made as the basis for ensuring the medium-term growth of the Lenzing Group. It was decided to build the first TENCEL production plant in Lenzing (Upper Austria), with planned investments of about EUR 130 mill. required to achieve an annual capacity of approximately 60,000 tons. It will be the first backward integrated TENCEL. plant in the world which can be directly supplied by pulp manufactured by the pulp factory in Lenzing. Furthermore, it was also resolved to invest in the expansion of the TENCEL facility in Mobile (Alabama) with investment  costs of close to USD 30 mill., enabling capacity to be raised to about 50,000 tons. The production line shut down by the previous owner will be modernized and re-equipped as a means of satisfying the strong demand for TENCEL fibers in North and South America.

Cooperation in the field of baby products with the leading U.S. retailer Costco could be further intensified. In this regard, Lenzing benefits from the trend towards own brands, which opens up new perspectives to carry out cobranding activities with brands such as TENCEL and thus raise awareness of Lenzing brands among a very broad consumer base.

R&D
TENCEL displays a wide range of useful features, for example when used as TENCEL powder incorporated into mattress foam to improve moisture management. In cooperation with partners, corresponding products were prepared to be launched on the marketplace.

Other potential application areas of TENCEL powder are as plaster (used in the construction industry), in fiber-reinforced plastics, and as a replacement for fiberglass incorporated into injection molded parts.

A further new area of application for TENCEL fibers is in upholstery fabrics used in homes and in hotels. TENCEL has enabled the fabric to achieve excellent utility values (abrasion resistance), which are far superior to those of cotton.

The specialty fiber TENCEL C was also developed to market maturity. It features the application of chitosan, a natural raw material extracted from the shells of crustaceans, to the fibers. This process improves the already outstanding skinfriendliness of TENCEL fibers.

The largest development project currently being undertaken in the nonwovens area is TencelWeb. This new technology enables the production of TENCEL nonwovens from very fine filaments directly from the spinning solution. These filaments feature a large share of microfibers and a low weight. This innovative nonwoven was further optimized in cooperation with key customers. The nonwovens are to be incorporated into hygiene products and filter media.

Other research projects involved the development of products for wound treatment, a segment in which TENCEL in gel form is used as a wound dressing. TENCEL is also used as a replacement for the cotton incorporated into such well-established products such as gauze and cotton wool.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Tencel in Lenzing Annual Reports 2010 - Part 1

This report has more on Tencel and Lenzing's enthusiasm for the Courtaulds concept of the Cellulose Gap than any previous report and will be split over 2 posts...

... market experts expect that cotton will not be able to sufficiently fulfill demand for high quality fibers boasting high wearing comfort despite the extensive use of genetically modified cotton plants. This shortage will lead to a so called “cellulose gap” which cannot be fi lled on the basis of the anticipated growth of production volumes for man-made cellulose fi bers at the present time. Additional factors in Lenzing’s favor are the outstanding technical properties of Lenzing fibers as well as the fact that the company is the only global supplier which can offer all three generations of man-made cellulose fibers, i.e. Lenzing Viscose., Lenzing Modal. and TENCEL.


Lenzing “Full Win”

On the basis of these fundamental considerations, Lenzing redefined its strategic objectives leading up to the year 2014 as follows: 

More than one million tons of Lenzing fibers are to be produced and marketed annually, of which more than one-third are specialty fibers  (Lenzing Modal., TENCEL.), enabling an average double-digit percentage sales growth and a simultaneous margin improvement, with about 700,000 tons of the required pulp supply derived from its own production capabilities.

Lenzing aims to achieve these targets by implementing the biggest expansion program in its corporate history, with expansion investments planned at almost all of its production facilities across the globe.

The positive market development in the second half of 2009 continued in 2010 as well. Demand for Lenzing fibers on the part of the textile and nonwovens industry could only be partially satisfied despite the expansion of production capacities in 2010.

The reason for this development was the long-term market trend towards the increased use of Lenzing Viscose., Lenzing Modal and TENCEL. fibers as described in the previous section of this report. In addition, the overall economic recovery combined with a broad-based upturn in private consumption also contributed to growth. In fact, the markets in Asia tended 
to overheat as a result already in the first half of 2010. Ultimately cotton prices exploded as of the third quarter 2010 due to the perceived danger of a physical shortage as a consequence of flood catastrophes in Pakistan and India. This
prematurely ended the expected normalization of the price situation in the second half of the year.

The TENCEL production facility in Heiligenkreuz, Austria also raised total capacity by 10,000 tons to about 60,000tons as of the 2011 business year thanks to a corresponding investment program. The TENCEL factory in Grimsby (Great Britain) carried out refurbishment investments, allowing for a considerable increase in production capacities for the TENCEL specialty fiber A-100 although total capacity remained the same.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tencel in Lenzing Annual Reports (2009)

Tencel sales in Textiles begin to recover and the fibre is mentioned in Business Unit Textiles for the first time in a few years:

Sales of TENCEL® fibers were equally gratifying. Although the demand for TENCEL® for textile applications declined somewhat during the first months of 2009, Lenzing succeeded in gaining a strong market position for innovative fiber blends with cotton, in particular in the denim segment. TENCEL® applications for home textiles developed equally well after considerable marketing and development activity in the preceding years. Sales of flame retardant fibers for military applications remained stable whereas industrial protective applications declined due to the general economic situation.

...and in Business Unit Nonwovens the Wipes and Webs story continues.

Specialty wipes in the reporting year benefited from two factors. Firstly, the new flu raised awareness of prevention by hygienic measures and caused the demand for wipes with anti-bacterial action to rise. Secondly, consumers buying disposable products, such as wipes, increasingly opt for environmentally friendly alternatives. The certification of the TENCEL® fiber as fully biodegradable made Lenzing a global pioneer in this field. For example, a major US retailer in 2009 became a TENCEL® customer for its store brand of baby wet wipes. The company explains the ecological advantages of the Lenzing fiber on the package.  In technical applications, business unit Nonwoven Fibers emphasized its focus on niche products with future potential, such as components for hybrid drives and solar energy devices.

The cooperation with Weyerhaeuser started in 2008 for developing novel nonwovens products based on lyocell recorded further progress. In June 2009 a pilot plant for the production of TencelWebTM went operational at the Lenzing site. The plant produces novel cellulose nonwovens materials made from the raw material wood using the meltblown process. The product is an ecologically sound alternative to nonwovens products made from crude oil – an example of a sustainable climate policy for the industrial consumer market with positive effects on CO2 reduction. 

Source:http://www.lenzing.com/fileadmin/template/pdf/konzern/geschaftsberichte_gb_ugb_jfb/GB_EN/GB_2009_EN.pdf

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tencel in Lenzing Annual Reports (2008)

More extracts from Lenzing's Annual Reports...

In "Business Unit Textiles" the main message on Tencel appears in the photo below. 


 Sportswear is the key, but Home Textiles also gets a brief mention:

Tencel® Eco Bed, a special application for natural bed-linen, received the award as the best organic ecological product in the home textile sector in the USA.

Of more interest once again is "Business Unit Nonwovens" with the first mention in Annual Reports of Robert Smith and Malcolm Hayhurst's work on TencelWeb(tm):

Lenzing and the US company Weyerhaeuser, a global leader in forestry products, came to a basic agreement on the development of novel lyocell-based nonwovens products. The goal is to create an alternative to petrol-based plastics in the nonwovens sector by manufacturing convenience products for industry and hygiene on an industrial scale.

This project is the latest manifestation of "spunlaid cellulose" which first appeared in Courtaulds Research in the 1960's and was proposed for Tencel in 1988.  However I don't think anyone in Courtaulds saw it as an "alternative to petrol-based plastics in nonwovens".  We saw it as a way of making high-value 100% cellulose absorbent nonwovens for medical, hygiene and wiping markets at lower cost by virtue of direct-from-dope production in a Tencel plant.

Alluded to for the first time is the highly successful carboxymethylation of Tencel carried out by Hardev Bahia and Tom Burrow and commercialised by Courtaulds Research during the 90's.  The resulting hydrogel appeared first as the superabsorbent "SuperNova" fibre for tampons, and then "Hydrocel" which Convatec used to make the Aquacel range of wound dressings:

Product group medical applications manufactures upmarket cellulose fiber specialities. The focus of activity was placed on the successful implementation of innovative products, such as cellulose hydrogels for demanding wound care and also in cosmetics.

(More to come on these specialities)